Since September, I have been heavily involved in all aspects of Huddle. Trading, points chase, collecting, and writing this site has been a part of my daily life for the last months like never before. Football is my main jam, which is why I was so much more invested in Huddle over other apps.
This series is a review of some of MY major threads from 2014, and I will obsessively breakdown anything and everything I can muster.
Part 2 – Boost Mania
Im going to start off this post with my experiences in Bunt, used only as a barometer for the experience that people have had in Huddle comparatively. In Bunt, Black Boosts were some of the more coveted cards in the game. Even more coveted were the 4x fire boost. When Huddle started this year, I believe that the plan for the year was somewhat similar. In fact, boost culture was so foreign to Bunt, that when the Post Season card chase started, there was a hugely negative reaction because of how few boosts existed at that point. It literally turned the points chase upside down.
The first of the Black Boosts released in Huddle came with a huge bang, as Jamaal Charles hit the sheet early Sunday in the first week the 2014 bulid of the app was live. I remember distinctly thinking how cool that card was, knowing that Huddle might end up following the Bunt model and making these cards some of the better ones to chase. It was a tough pull at 250 copies (which was EXTREMELY low per Bunt model standards), and led me to think that we would be in for a treat every time one of these cards hit the sheet.
In Week 1, Calvin Johnson exploded for 2 TDs in a nationally televised game, and no one was surprised when he became the first major chase of the season. Huddle released a 100 count black boost, which remained one of the rarest in the game, and the mammoth Teal boost, which scored 3x points, but also delivered a huge coin reward based on his production the following week. For the first weeks of 2014 Huddle, that card was the best in the game. Every one wanted it, no one wanted to trade it. Looking back, it was the first card I really dove in head first for and came up empty. It was a bad feeling because I knew how important that card would end up being. Funny enough the Teal Boost remains the only of its kind in the game, and is still highly coveted just for its status as an action shot boost with no copies.
Once the transition to head shots happened in week 2, everything changed. In the article describing the new direction, there was a mention of the new focus on gameplay, which struck me as a warning for the coming tidal waves of boosted cards. I thought there would be some nice cards coming, but I really had no idea.
Black Boosts and Their Impact
Throughout the season of Huddle, you could pull an insert and feel like you just hit the lotto. It was that tough sometimes. With the release of the first wave of Black Boosts, you could walk in with 20k to 40k coins and walk out with some major fire power. There were times where the triple boom was dropped, where each of the three cards in the pack were all black boosts.
That wasnt even the best part, though. For each set of five that were collected, a 5x Orange boost was delivered along with some coins. To give you all a sense of nostalgia here, 5x cards were still very playable into the playoffs. They were nothing to shake a stick at, and really still arent. That just shows how important of a shift this was in the game. Almost overnight, the only thing anyone wanted was boosts.
I wish I had saved a series of screen shots I took where it was literally just post after post of people ditching other cards to pick up the black boosts. Huddle had discovered a gold mine, and within short time, they started to use it to make sure that people stayed engaged on a weekly basis.
Game Only Boosts Change the Dynamic of the Points Chase
In week 2, we had our first throwdown as well. For a long time, I had said that one day leagues with a buy in were a great way to keep things interesting. To see that they had come up with the throwdown format to make use of this concept was awesome. What I didnt expect was the way Game Only boosts would affect the scoring mechanisms for the whole season.
When the Steelers and the Ravens GO Boosts were released at 10x and 5x prior to ANYONE owning a card above 4x was insane, and user after user talked about how much of a bad idea that was. Thankfully they came back to earth with 3 and 5x cards the next week, but it became a precursor for things to come. At 10x and 5x, we all thought that these cards could impact season long points chase numbers because of how powerful they were. Even though it was only one game, someone who stocked up could really set themselves apart. I was RELIEVED when they went to 3x and 5x the following week.
During that same time, the ebay market ramped up for Huddle, as big ebay sellers loaded up on buying packs knowing that the base could be sold and the game boosts would help them gain some pretty enormous coin rewards to pay back the investment. To this day, boosted examples are still the most costly card to purchase on eBay.
Over the season, the game boosts became very much intertwined with the fabric of the app, and I am proud to say that I participated in every last throwdown offered over the entire season. With 2 per week, its kind of crazy to think about how many game boosts that was.
New Boost Levels Injected Weekly
This is where many users felt like things were going in the wrong direction. As soon as we were about 75% of the way through the Black Boost chase, Huddle released purple at 3.5x. The counts of the Purples were similar at 500, but the pack cost slightly more and the boost level of the reward card was increased to Sky Blue at 5.5x.
I actually didnt mind a new boost level, but to see that they were A) the same amount of cards and B) released simultaneously, was really hard to stomach. Eventually we got used to it, but each time this happened, there was significant backlash from the community.
Considering that this was only a few months ago, it seems like a lifetime. The game has changed so drastically because of the boosts, that our game consciousness flows at an accelerated rate in that respect.
When Huddle started, Inserts followed the Bunt model of remaining 1x for collecting purposes only. Through the season, it became clear that 1x inserts were just not going to cut it. In a matter of weeks, the inserts rose to 2.7x, capping out as high as 17x with the most recent releases.
I think this was actually a welcome change, as it gave value to cards that were dramatically under purchased until the decision to boost them. With new insert boost levels, collectors could still compete in the chases without sacrificing their pack buying approach. It was a good change.
Similarly, the Best of Huddle cards also got bigger boosts, which was drastically different from Bunt. Of all the changes to inserts, this was the best, as it gave value to your card trophy more than in Bunt. I never understood why Bunt didnt take more of this idea, as points players rarely care about any card that cant help them every week in the points chase.
Playoff Boosts Cap The Chase
We were all worried about the playoffs. Deathly afraid to say the least. The reason is that we saw what happened in Bunt and how the post season cards nerfed the regular season to the point of not being playable. If we were already at 8x to end the season in Huddle, what would playoff cards be?
Seeing that they came in at 8x to start was a good thing, but the better part was that only a few players per team were featured. In Bunt it was practically everyone. Being that the cards also looked as good as they did made the backlash significantly less vocal.
With the Big Game cards likely being released shortly, we can only guess how that will change the score further, but I doubt it will be anything unattainable.
Boosts are now a part of Huddle culture, and I have slowly warmed up to the idea. In fact, its gotten to the point now where small boosted cards dont sell, so who knows what is going to happen.
I remain hopeful that Huddle will eventually be fully licensed and collecting for collecting’s sake can be restored. Right now that aspect has withered with atrophy, which is unfortunate. Maybe next year will be different, but I will be ready and willing even if it isnt.